Spreading the word

News & Events

Spreading the word

June 15, 2018

Emily Churcher turns up to Liscombe House each month with ideas, music, poetry, stories and a glimpse into a different world. This month she will talk with residents about weddings and the recent royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle is sure to be a focus of the Words on Wheels discussion. But along with her creativity and ideas Emily brings her 10 month-old daughter Audrey, who shines bright amongst the residents at OCAV’s aged care facility at St Helena.

Emily is a volunteer who brings the Yarra Plenty Regional Library’s Words on Wheels program to Liscombe House. She also takes the Home Library Service into the homes of people who are no longer able to attend the library, or who might have health issues. At Liscombe House’s Anne Jeffery unit most of the residents have dementia. Emily’s program gives them the opportunity to focus on a topic, discuss it and very often share memories of their own lives.

“Topics we have done which really allowed people to share their own memories were Christmas and true friends. Everyone could recall special memories of Christmas with their families. When we discussed true friends the residents talked a lot about friends and pets they had loved during their lives. Some people who have had a pet really miss them now,” Emily said.

Emily, who also has a three-year-old daughter, Alice, takes Audrey with her and she is much loved by the residents. She wanders happily amongst the group of about eight people who take part in the monthly gathering. Their visit highlights OCAV’s commitment to creating a dementia friendly environment for residents and staff are delighted to see the mother and babe come each month.

The library developed Words on Wheels and Emily, despite having her hands full with two small children, was keen to take it out into the community. She is on leave from her job as a secondary school teacher and is studying to be a librarian.

The Words on Wheels program is made up into kits by the library and each one has a central them, such as weddings. Emily chooses the components of the kit she think will work best for the participants she visits. She knows the Liscombe House residents enjoy some history and traditions, a very short story, music, quotes and some laminated visual panels.

“The visual panels and music sparks memories for people and those memories will then lead to conversations in the group. I spend a bit of time thinking about the people who come to the group and I select what I think will best suit the people. The laminated visual panels are a great tool to prompt discussion and evoke memories,” Emily said.

Emily is passionate about Words on Wheels because it takes stories and ideas to people in the community who are too often left out of the popular conversation. Her home library visits to elderly people in the community can be a lifeline for those who are isolated.

“There is a feeling in the community that once older people are in a nursing home that they aren’t interested in what is going on in the wider world. That’s not the case. Sometimes it is because they can’t access the wider conversation. Words on Wheels creates the opportunity to engage at whatever level the person is able to,” Emily said.

Audrey, though she is only 10 months old, is an important part of Emily’s visits to Liscombe House where the residents light up when she arrives.

“Audrey just wanders in the group from one person to another and they love her. And she really loves the special attention the residents give her.”

Caption: Emily Churcher and her daughter, Audrey, take Words on Wheels to Liscombe House.

CEO Phillip Wohlers has overseen some big changes at OCAV. But their model of personalised care and community building is something that won't change under his 'watch'.

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